With ‘Suburbicon,’ George Clooney’s Box Office Struggles Continue

As director, Clooney’s track record has been decidedly mixed

George Clooney
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With three Golden Globes and two Oscars, George Clooney is undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s most successful A-listers. But that success hasn’t extended to his career as a director, as the weak opening for his latest film, “Suburbicon,” continues what has been a lackluster record at the box office for his movies.

“Suburbicon” made only $2.7 million this weekend from just over 2,000 screens, making it one of the lowest openings for lead star Matt Damon since his breakthrough performance in “Good Will Hunting.” Paramount paid $10 million for distribution rights, with Black Bear Pictures financing.

“Obviously, we are disappointed in these results, which we don’t feel are indicative of the quality and message of this original movie,” said Paramount’s Domestic Distribution head Kyle Davies.

As for Clooney, for whom “Suburbicon” is his sixth film as director, his films are designed more for artistic goals than box office success. But so far, only two of those films have been unqualified successes. One is his 2005 biopic, “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Made on a thrifty $7 million budget, the film made $54 million at the box office, including $31.6 million in limited domestic release. That success is thanks in good part to the bump the film got from its six Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Screenplay nods for Clooney as well as Best Picture.

The other solid performance for Clooney is his 2011 collaboration with Ryan Gosling, “The Ides of March,” which made $76 million against a $12.5 million budget and earned an 84 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and another Best Screenplay nomination for Clooney.

But beyond that, it hasn’t been a very good record for Clooney. His 2002 directorial debut, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” won over critics but barely made its production budget back with a $33 million total. His 2008 sports comedy, “Leatherheads,” bombed with $41.2 million against a $58 million budget, and his most expensive film, the $70 million “Monuments Men,” was only a modest success with a $155 million total while leaving critics cold with a 30 percent RT score.

“Suburbicon” has been the worst of both worlds for Clooney. On top of the disappointing opening, critics have panned the film for failing to balance its dark comedic elements with its thriller plot and satire of ’50s suburb America, giving Clooney his lowest RT score yet with 26 percent. Audiences hated the film too, giving it a D- on CinemaScore.

So what’s in the future for Clooney as a director? He’s currently attached to direct “Hack Attack,” a film that tells the story of the phone-hacking scandal that launched an investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and resulted in the shutdown of his tabloid, News of the World. The project was first announced  in 2014 but has not moved forward since.